Digital PlanetAuthor: BBC World Service
16 Jan 2022

Digital Planet

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Technological and digital news from around the world.

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    Robots under the Thwaites Glacier

    Huge robots, including a seven-metre two-tonne vessel named Ran, are on their way to the Thwaites Glacier to learn more about the retreating ice and its impact on Climate Change. But this won’t be the only tech that’s being deployed on the 65-day mission; British Antarctic Survey’s Boaty McBoatface and the Autosub Long Range vehicle operated by the National Oceanography Centre in the UK, will travel under the ice shelf along with Ran. Professor Anna Wåhlin from the University of Gothenburg tells us more about her robot Ran and about the data she’ll be collecting. Tiny light engines We’re talking to Ed Tang, the CEO of Avegant. They’re the company behind the world’s smallest light engines for augmented reality. Developing projectors thinner than the width of a pencil means we’re on the brink of AR glasses that will barely look different from standard glasses. Alongside talking about how this technology works, Ed also spoke to us about what this means for the future of AR. James Webb telescope tech Space journalist Kate Arkless-Gray is live on the show to tell us about the tech that got the James Webb Telescope into space and how vital it is that none of the tech deployed goes wrong - unlike the Hubble space telescope, repair missions to James Webb are impossible. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington. Studio Manager: Nigel Dix Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Image: Ran navigates its way under the ice front of Thwaites Glacier. Photo credit: Filip Stedt)

  • Posted on 12 Jan 2022

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    Afrofuturism and tech innovation

    This week we have a special programme on Afrofuturism and tech innovation. It’s a subject often covered in science fiction, but what makes Afrofuturism different from standard science fiction is that ancient African traditions and black identity is steeped throughout the story. A text that has a black character in a futuristic world is not enough. But Afrofuturism is more than just Sci-fi. It’s the reimagining of a future filled with arts, science and technology seen through the perspective of black people. We will be exploring Afrofuturism and technology with India Gary-Martin, formerly JPMorgan’s MD and COO for investment banking tech and operations, Dr. Mave Houston, Head of UXR Disney+ and Nana Baffour, a Ghanaian born venture capitalist and investor who is now CEO of one of Brazil’s largest tech companies join us on the programme. In addition, we have an extract of Afrofuturism Sci-Fi, Ale Santos’s new book “The Last Ancestral” and his view on Afrofuturism and its role in the development of technology. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari. Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Image: Getty Images)

  • Posted on 04 Jan 2022

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    A tech review of 2021

    We look back on some of the stories we covered in 2021 – from age appropriate design to protect children, through internet shutdowns, a remote air traffic control tower and a WhatsApp school in Zimbabwe to a virtual reality opera. The podcast has even more stories: comparing Mars locations to Earth locations, a smart phone test to detect malaria, how technology can help prep for a date at home if you’re blind and controlling our devices with a muscle in our ear! Available on BBC Sounds. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Angelica Mari, Bill Thompson and Ghislaine Boddington. Image: Man using mobile phone Credit: Chaiwat Chaythawin/EyeEm/Getty Images Studio Manager: Donald MacDonald Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

  • Posted on 28 Dec 2021

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    The Internet Archive is 25!

    Twenty-five years ago the world wide web was 2.5 terabytes and you needed to dial-up via your phone line to get onto it, so Brewster Kahle decided to set up a project to archive what was out there already. Now the Internet Archive consists of more than 588 billion web pages, as well as 28 million books and texts, 14 million audio items, and 580,000 software titles, making it one of the world’s largest digital libraries. Brewster tells Gareth how they’ve done this – especially making content that runs on old and absolute technologies accessible today. The Future of Text Why is our tech for text so simple and boring – in effect it’s little more than an electronic copy of a paper page? But this changes with new technology bringing books and documents to life with interaction and metadata tags that allow you to search, source and organise text as never before. Father of the internet, Vint Cerf and Frode Hegland, Founder of the Augmented Text Company, are on the show to tell us why we’re now able to move on from using the click of a mouse to manage our text. Moonshot – tech used to learn more about neglected diseases is fighting COVID The COVID Moonshot project began as a virtual collaboration during UK 2020 lockdown. Scientists, academics, researchers & students started a twitter-fuelled race against the clock to identify new molecules that could block SARS-CoV-2 and develop treatments that would be globally affordable and easily manufactured for most vulnerable communities. Coordinating this effort is the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, using the AI tools and computer crowdsourcing tech they’ve adopted for neglected diseases as well as the use of the Diamond Light Source technology. All of this tech allows the scientists to build up a huge catalogue of the structures of disease-causing parasites and then model potential treatments to see if they might work. Dr. Nathalie Strub-Wourgaft, Director of Neglected Tropical Diseases, DNDi joins us. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. Studio Manager: Bill Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Image credit: Internet Archive)

  • Posted on 21 Dec 2021

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    Brazil: Where is all the Covid data?

    Ministry of Health websites in Brazil are still down following a number of cyber-attacks. Millions of people now do not have access to their Covid-19 vaccination data (including certificates). It is estimated that 50TB of data has been removed by Lapsus$ Group, which is claiming responsibility for the ransomware attack. Dr Patricia Peck, who is on the board of the National Data Protection Authority is on the programme with the latest on the attacks. First-ever delivery of medicines by drone in Sierra Leone The first-ever delivery of medicines by drone in Sierra Leone has been a success. The drones are not the typical helicopter drones, but small plane types with propellers that have a number of advantages. The fixed-winged drones can carry much heavier payloads over much further distances. We hear from Daniel Ronen from the UK drone specialist, UAVaid, who is behind the project. Reimagining the new Spider-Man trailer through animation Fans prepared to dedicate hundreds of hours looking for the perfect clips have been making their own trailers that reimagine popular content. One such creation from the YouTube channel 100Bombs Studio has recreated the latest Spider-Man trailer using clips from the original animated series. Filmmaker and critic Maxim Thompson has been talking to us about these projects and how they allow people to engage with films. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington Studio Manager: Giles Aspen Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz (Image: Hacker with computers in a dark room. Credit: Getty Images)

  • Posted on 14 Dec 2021

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